BY HANEEN ABBAS
ISLAMABAD: For doctor Sobia Ali Hina, life changed all of a sudden after she was transferred to Intensive Care Unit Ward at PAF Hospital, one of the largest private hospitals in Islamabad.
Sobia, 30, mother of an 18-month-old baby girl, is one of the thousands of young doctors battling Covid-19 as frontline defenders working in private sectors getting monthly salary ranging between PKR 30,000 to 55,000 ( USD $188 to USD $336) per month. In sharp contrast, a Medical officer in a government hospital gets PKR 150,000 to 170,000 ( USD $ 919 to USD $ 1041) per month.
Fear of contracting the deadly virus while taking care of patients of Coronavirus is the biggest fear haunting Dr. Sobia and thousands of others in Pakistan’s war against the virus.
“ Things have got changed soon after I was directed to take care of the patients of Covid-19. Not only myself but also my family has been put at risk as a slight mistake or negligence on my part can prove lethal not for me but also my family which is equally at risk,” Sobia told Islamabad Telegraph.
Apart from the risk of contracting the virus from patients, Sobia and her colleagues including the doctors, nurses, and paramedical staff are also dealing with a growing sense of anxiety and psychological problems due to the exhaustion of their unending shifts.
“ These are critical times. I and my colleagues have been working round the clock. Although we have been provided with Personal Protection Equipment and the Hospital management is kind to us, but fear of contracting the virus while treating the patients is a nightmare. Even while sleeping I am thinking about the hospital. My personal life has been disturbed” Sobia said.
Sobia has made special arrangements at home to make sure her family doesn’t contract the virus through her.
“Can you believe I couldn’t hug my daughter for a couple of weeks? I have to maintain a safe distance from my family. Life has changed at home as well. But, as a being doctors we have to sacrifice our time and emotions for a greater cause. The nation needs us,” Sobia said.
Doctors and paramedical staff in Pakistan are facing unprecedented workloads nationwide these days.
Rabia Tayyab, a 26-year-old female medical officer was the latest casualty of Corona Virus who died last night in a government-run hospital in Rawalpindi.
Doctor Rabia Tayyab, had contracted coronavirus while treating patients with Covid-19. She was under treatment at Rawalpindi‘s Holly family hospital for a week.
on April 25, 2020, Pakistan lost a senior doctor at Peshawar’s Hayatabad Medical Complex.
Dr. Mohammad Javed, deceased was an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. He had contracted Coronavirus while working in the Covid-19 ward of the hospital.
Dr. Javed had tested positive for the coronavirus a week ago and was on a ventilator.
According to Pakistan Medical Association, two Hundred and sixty (260) health workers including 160 doctors have contracted Coronavirus while treating patients of Covid-19. Pakistani authorities have quarantined all the doctors and medical staff on the advice of Chinese medical experts and the condition of the majority of them is improving.
“ Most of the infected doctors had shown growing sense of anxiety and psychological problem. Psychotherapists have been hired among others to treat them,” Dr. Mohammad Fazal, president of Young Doctors Association told this newspaper. They are showing improvements, he added.
The government of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, is currently working with a team of Chinese doctors to train its health workers including doctors to best contain the virus.
As advised by Chinese medical experts, Pakistan is focusing on prevention work. The government of Pakistan has tasked its premier intelligence agency the Inter-Services Intelligence agency to track the suspected patients of Coronavirus using modern techniques and put them in quarantine centers.
“ Prevention work is a priority now. We are grateful to the Chinese government for dispatching another team of health scientists and doctors who are touring Punjab province training the doctors and paramedical staff best techniques to treat the patients,” Shaukat Basra, the spokesperson of the provincial government of Punjab told Islamabad Telegraph.
“China’s impressive victory against Covid-19 is impressive. They are now dispatching teams across the globe to save mankind from an unseen enemy —the Covid-19. We are grateful to our trusted friend China to send another team of health experts,” Shaukat Basra who is himself touring the Punjab province along with the Chinese doctor’s team, said.
It is worth mentioning that another Chinese medical team headed by Major General Huang Qingzhen arrived in Pakistan last month on April 25 comprising specialists, including disease control, pulmonologists, ICU, infectious disease and control, testing, and nursing experts will stay in Pakistan for two months to provide their expertise and guidance to doctors and paramedics for COVID-19 treatment at various hospitals across the country.
It is learned that Pakistan army’s medical Corps is leading Pakistan’s fight against Covid-19 with the help of Chinese medical experts.